Forecasting the Sabathia Sweepstakes

Yanks don't win 1-0 behind Hughes' complete game
Joba renewed at the minimum

Because it’s never too early to start speculating on next winter, Jon Heyman at checks in with C.C. Sabathia. It is seemingly a foregone conclusion that the Indians and Sabathia will part ways in November. The Indians have acknowledged it; C.C. has acknowledged it.

And when one of the game’s top lefty starters hits the open market, we all know what that means: a good, old fashioned free agent bidding war. Sabathia figures to command a contract in excess of $100-$120 million, and of course, our favorites are right at the top of Heyman’s list of likely suitors:

1. Yankees. Long seen as the most logical destination for Sabathia, the big reason they balked at Santana was their reluctance to part with top pitching prospects Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. Since it’ll only cost them money (and draft choices), and Mike Mussina, Carl Pavano, Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte could be coming off the books, they remain the favorite. A perfect replacement in case this is Pettitte’s last year, a real possibility.

Of course, Sabathia makes sense for the Yanks whether or not Pettitte continues his “one more year” shtick or not. The Yanks have money coming off the books, and one can never have too much starting pitching, let alone lefties in the Bronx.

The Yankees will go hard after Sabathia, and they need only give up money this time. It’s a match made in baseball heaven. All Carsten Charles needs to do is turn in another top season and avoid injury. The gold is waiting for him at the end of the rainbow.

Yanks don't win 1-0 behind Hughes' complete game
Joba renewed at the minimum
  • Rob

    The only question for me is whether the Yanks are prepared to go five or six years with a pitcher. I think it really depends on what happens this year with the big three. If all have above average campaigns, with Wang, Sabathia may be seen as a luxury they don’t need. And there’s Darvish in Japan would command less money but could be even more dominating. There even a Matsuzaka-type posting fee and contract only means 50 million against the tax. He might not be posted until after 2009, but the possibility gives them another year to wait and see what the farm produces.

  • matt

    A rotation of CC, Wang, Hughes, Joba, IPK would be ridiculously good. Any rotation consisting of Joba as a #4 starter would be sick. If we do go after CC and don’t loose anything but money, we will be contenders for years to come.

    • Ben K.

      And draft picks. I forgot to mention that.

  • Tripp

    Do you just not resign Pettitte? I totally understand why you wouldn’t if you had the option between Pettitte or CC, but he said he wants to pitch in the new Yankees Stadium as well.

    Maybe trade Wang for something??

    • Ben K.

      Why give up on any of them? You can never have too much pitching.

      • Tripp

        No argument there.

  • CB

    Sabbathia is a tough call. I honestly don’t see Cashman being enamored with the idea of giving a pitcher that kind of contract, even with money coming off the books. Also, I don’t know if Hank is going to be that supportive of this kind of signing, given his financial concerns with Santana.

    The most telling quote from that Heyman article comes from Sabbathia himself:

    “he’s 6-foot-8 and about 300 pounds. “My genes are terrible,” he admitted. “I have to work my ass off just to look like this.”

    That’s the concerning thing with Sabbathia and a long term deal. Does his massive weight speak well of him staying healthy over the course of that contract?

    Also, I wonder if Boston gets involved if only to drive up the yankees price. I don’t buy them thinking Masterson, Bowden are going to be high end guys long term and I think its unclear how good Lester may be. Beckett and Buccholz are going to anchor that staff but they have to see how many great young arms the yankees have developed and get concerned.

    Pitchers like Sabbathia don’t hit the market often.

    • CB

      I meant to say I don’t know if Hal if going to be supportive of this kind of signing…

    • RollingWave

      on the other hand, David Wells managed to stay pretty healthy…… and he’s almost indisputablly in worse shape.

      CC is a guy that’s worth a gamble on IMHO. I rather gamble on a guy with huge upside then smaller gamble on guys with less upsides (see Pavano, Carl)

  • dan

    I think the Yankees will make a serious run at him, and either sign him or come close. The next best starting pitcher available is Ben Sheets (Lackey has a $9M option that will be exercised), and he’s not certainty when it comes to health. Sabathia has never had health or durability concerns, and will be only 28 years old. If there’s a pitcher outside of Santana who deserves $120mill, it’s Sabathia.

    Sabathia (age 28)
    Wang (29)
    Hughes (22)
    Chamberlain (23)
    Horne/Marquez (26, 24)

    I don’t care what it costs, that is one hell of a pitching staff.

  • Rob_in_CT

    Size/weight are a concern, sure. But I dunno… it seems to me there have been a bunch of fat pitchers who’ve done ok. Eventually they break down, yeah, but skinny pitchers break down too… just in different ways.

    He’s young. He’s good. He’s a lefty. He will cost “only” money and draft picks.

    I’m pro. I agree Boston will be involved.

  • Geno

    I’d go 4 years, $100 million for him.

    • Eric

      Thanks Geno. Luckily for CC you’re not in the front office of any team.

      He’ll get his 6-7 years.

      • Geno

        And lucky for you, you’ve got a crystal ball.

  • J.R.

    Im predicting a down year. With all of the talk of innings limits on the big three, we should look at Sabthia’s. In 2006 he threw 192.2 innings. Very close to his carreer high of 210 in 2002. While he did have a career low ERA at 3.21 they raised his innings count by 49 NOT including the 3 playoff starts. That puts him cloe to 69 innings over. But a down year for him could drop his market value significantly. But he is also one of the highest injury risks this year. Lets see 08 and then talk about it.

  • NYFan50

    The possibility of adding Dunn & Sabathia next offseason makes me happy.

    • Ben K.

      The possibility of adding Teixeira and Sabathia next offseason makes me even happier.

      • J.R.

        Teixeira makes alot of sense. You get the best switch hitter in the game and Yankee stadium would boost his power numbers even more when hitting lefty. And move Matsui to full time DH and put Gardner or AJAX in right.

        • chris fowler

          Dunn?! what are you smoking?

          • Glen L

            Dunn and his .386 OBP .554 SLG and 136 OPS+ (remember that’s already park adjusted) can play for me any time :)

            And its worth mentioning, he hit more HR on the road last year (21) than he did at home (19)

            • chris fowler

              he can strike out 165 times somewhere else.

              • Glen L.

                if he gets on base 39 percent of the time he can strike out 200 times for all i care

  • TP


    Mr. Strikeout Machine

    Ben – I highly doubt Tex will become a Free Agent. he told the Atlanta press that he wants to stay with the Braves… he really likes it there

    Tex and the Braves began talks in the winter. they’ll work something out by the end of the season I’m sure.

    • NYFan50

      Dunn may strike out but he’s an on base machine. He’s 28, and has a career OPS of 900. And he’ll probably cost sixty percent of what Tex gets, in money and in years.

      • nmc

        Got to say that I like Adam Dunn. He is con-sis-tent, kind of like Matsui. He’s a butcher in the field though.. Anyone know if he can play 1B?

        I’m not too keen on Teix, mostly because he’ll be ridiculously expensive if he’s on the market, since he’s a prime Met target with Delgado going down.

  • pete

    ew not adam dunn. The guy will hit around 40 homers every year in the NL Central, but if he were on the yankees (facing the sox, jays, and rays staffs 50 some games each year), he’d hit .215 w/ 35 hrs. If you can’t hit .280 in the NL Central, then I don’t care how many home runs you hit (unless its like 80 per year or something), you don’t belong in the yankees lineup.

  • Mike A,

    Adam Dunn is a beast. You put him in the 5-hole behind Jeter-Abreu-ARod, he might drive in 160. Who cares if he strikes out 200 times? He’ll get on base 40% of the time and hit 50 HR in Yankee Stadium.

    As for Carsten Charles, I’m going to channel my inner McCarver and say that CC should stand for “Cha-Ching.” Dude could go 10-15 with a 4.50 ERA this year and he’ll still get paid.

    • NYFan50

      At least somebody’s backing me up here. :) I also think you can’t discount the relative cost in years & dollars for Dunn/Tex.

    • CB

      I like Dunn. His OBP and OPS year in and out are outstanding. Only issue I’d have with him and the yankees is that he’s another left handed bat. The team is already pretty left handed. Dunn’s not terrible against lefties but he’s got a pretty dramatic split (1.024 OPS righties vs. .789 lefties).

      Not a major issue but something to think about with Dunn. Will be a lot less than Tex.

      • Ben K.

        If Sabathia were to end up on the Yanks, the good AL pitchers facing the Bombers would all be, for the most part, righties. I’m not too concerned about the lefty/righty split.

  • Eric

    This is why Cashman passed on Santana. He’d rather have CC and Hughes and Kennedy.

  • samiamsports

    Quick question way off topic.
    Now that the mets are shopping shoenwice and sosa . why dont the yanks try and give one of there first baseman that arent gonna make the team? I know showenwise was horid last year but hes better (lefty) than what we have now. plus ill take sosa over karstens for the long relief spot

    • chris fowler

      nah… i’d take karstens–the strike thrower with mediocre stuff.

  • dan

    To those concerned with Sabathia’s size/weight:

    Quoting from a 2006 David Gassko THT article, “Tall pitchers, we find, are slightly worse-off than short pitchers, and overweight pitchers tend to perform better than their skinny brethren. Given that overweight pitchers also survive for much longer time periods in the major leagues, all else being equal, invest in fat guys. But generally, all else is not equal, in which the case the answer should be obvious: Go for the better ballplayer, always.”

    • dan

      Actual article is here (forgot to put it up there)

      He writes that at the end, just before References and Resources.

    • CB

      CC Sabbathia is a very unique pitcher and you can’t generalize from other “fat” pitchers or other “tall pitchers.” He’s both and I can’t think of another pitcher built like him.

      At 6’8 and 300 lbs at the age of 27 he could easily wind up at 330 when he’s 31 or 32. That’s an enormous amount of weight. That is not going to be good for his knees or his back.

      No “fat” pitcher has ever gotten a $100 million dollar deal either. The wear over the time of that contract will be substantial. We’re not talking about a guy like Wells who bounces around.

  • ryan

    I know this has nothing to do with this topic, but i know this blogs stance on melky and i thought this was interesting:

    not a big fan of waswatching, to pessimistic, but this is good.

  • Rob

    Just say no to Dunn. His defense is awful and he’s not going to age well. No thanks!

    I think the Yanks would rather wait for Darvish. See:

    This August he turns 22. “Standing at 6’4″, with a 93+ MPH fastball now in his arsenal, along with an excellent curve, changeup, and knuckle curve…”

    He’s gotten better every year:

    In 2007:

    26 GS, 12 CG, 15-5, 207.6 IP, 123 H, 9 HR, 49 BB, 210 K, 1.82 ERA, .174 BAA

    Compare that to Dice-K’s last year at age 26:

    25 GS, 13 CG, 17-5, 186.3 IP, 138 H, 13 HR, 34 BB, 200 K, 2.13 ERA, .210 BAA

    Even if the Yanks have to post $75 million, they can still give him a $50 million contract for 5 years. The total outlay ends up being smaller than CC because only the salary is taxed. And what better way to fill the new park than with a young Japanese phenomenon? Better, if anything, he’s underweight.

  • Rob

    Is this moderation thing new? Or is it just new for me? :)

    • Rob

      Sorry, probably the links set off your spam detector.

      • JobaHughesKennedy-I love you

        The though of getting CC tickles my fancy more than the thought seeing Jonathan Papelbon being castrated.

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  • Sean Serritella YankeesDaily

    This team is under new management and who knows if Hank and Hal are really into spending big money on other teams’ free agents. I’ve seen them spend money on their own but they’ve yet to spend huge on another teams’. I know from reading about Hank that he likes watching horses grow and get better from when they are younger and I know he spent a lot of time studying Yankee prospects when he was younger and got mad when his father traded the farm away.


  • felixpanther

    if Yankees can sign Ben Sheets along with C.C., Joba back to bullpen, this will be some fantesy squad

    • dan

      That’s not happening. Ever. I can see Sheets being a fall-back option if they don’t land Sabathia, but both will never be in this rotation.

      • chris fowler

        can we stop it with the “joba to the bullpen” bullshit?

      • Glen L.

        sure, if one of the two has to have TJ surgery this April

  • BrunoAKAmaximumpotential

    Cano MVP ’08 – You heard it here first!

    ’09 CC & Furcal to the Yanks
    dump Damon, Jeter to LF, Melky to RF, Austin Jackson in CF.



    • Ben K.

      That lineup is a significant downgrade over the 2008 Yankees, and putting Melky in right magnifies his offensive problems.

      Also, stop calling A-Rod “A-Hole.” It’s just childish and stupid; the guy’s here for the next ten years. And he happens to be really good at baseball.

  • jew4jeter

    Also, Farnsy and Abreu are coming off the payroll. Although, the Yanks will give up draft picks for Sabathia, they’ll gain picks for losing Abreu, Giambi, Farnsworth, and Mussina. Not bad.
    The Yanks definitely have to get Sabathia, but, what do you do with the rotation if Pettitte stays? Sabathia + Wang +Pettitte + Joba + Hughes + Kennedy = 6 pitchers Let’s say they’re all healthy and have a strong ’08? Do you:
    a. leave Kennedy out or trade
    b. don’t re-sign Pettitte or
    c. Put Joba back in the bullpen?

    I’d like Texiera, but he’s gonna cost, especially with Boras as his agent. I don’t know about Dunn. Maybe the Yankees trade for a first baseman? Any thoughts of who they should go for?
    I don’t agree with Was Watching’s bashing of Cash$, but I think the Melky article that Ryan referenced above makes a strong argument in favor of Leche. With Abreu leaving after this season, it would be ideal if A-Jax is ready to take over in center field for ’09. I think this season will tell a lot about what is going to happen with Melky’s future. If he does well enough, perhaps he replaces Abreu for the long haul or at least until Tabata is ready to step in. If he makes a strong enough case maybe Tabata has to wait until Matsui and Damon are gone… Yankee fans should be rooting hard for Melky to do well, as it would make for a much smoother transition to Tabata and A-Jax.

  • Rich

    One reason to let Abreu go would be to recoup the draft pick the Yankees would lose by signing Sabathia, Dunn, Texeira, or whomever.

  • BrunoAKAmaximumpotential

    I’ve been calling him A-Hole since before he played for by beloved Yankees and I’m not going to stop now.

    Am I the only one here that has faith in Melky? Just remember the way Bernie’s career started. That’s not saying he’ll put up Bernie #s, but there’s no reason not to expect overall improvement in his game over the next few years. He might even add some power as he grows up/fills out (10-15 HR range?). With a solid .280+ BA and good defense it’s not bad at all if A-Jax turns out like Chris Young.

    • Glen L

      offensively speaking, over the course of his career, bernie would have been a sub-par corner outfielder ..

      i have some faith melky can be a league average CF offensively, but absolutely no faith he can be an adequate offensive force if he occupies RF

  • BrunoAKAmaximumpotential

    BTW, I have no problem admitting how good at baseball A-Rod/Hole is and I’m VERY glad he’s a Yankee.

  • RollingWave

    Dunn wouldn’t be my plan A, but I wouldn’t hate the idea .

    though one issue i have about that is that the Yankees have a lot of guys that needs to DH either now or going foward. and signing a guy to completely lock it up is a little conterproductive .

    I would definately consider it. but I think we need to look to the negatives too. not just his OPS.

  • Bo

    The whole “A-Hole” crap is childish and beyond stupid. I guess the guy has to win the World Series MVP now too before he can lose it???

    Some fans make me sick.

  • pounder

    Defense and pitching.Dunn will not be a good fit defensively,and CC will be a better way to spend our money.Do we break the bank for Texeira?I say yes,Shelley is not a prime time player,Miranda is a hoax.and Giambi is toast.

  • eric from morrisania

    After the year, Giambi, Abreu, Farnsworth, Mussina, LaTroy Hawkins, Wilson Betemit, and (probably) Pettite all expire. Pettite won’t count, because he’ll likely retire (or reup for one more year to open the new stadium), but Giambi/Abreu/Farnsworth are all probable “A” free agents; Mussina, Hawkins, and Betemit are probably B’s. None of these guys are probably coming back, so we’re looking at a huge haul of picks in 2009; more than enough to offset signing CC and either Texiera or Dunn. And we should.

    Here’s where we’re at for ’09, minus the departures:

    C-Posada (13.1M)
    2B-Cano (6M)
    3B-ARod (32M)
    SS-Jeter (20M)
    LF-Damon (13M)
    CF-Cabrera (c. 500k)
    DH-Matsui (13M)

    Bench-Molina (2M)
    Bench-Duncan (c. 500k)

    SP-Wang (11M) [assuming we give him a long-term deal]
    SP-Hughes (c. 500k)
    SP-Chamberlain (c. 500k)
    SP-Kennedy (c. 500k)

    RP-Rivera (15M)
    RP-Ohlendorf (c. 500k)
    RP-Igawa (4M)

    Now, even when you add in the 1M for Brackman, all the above only adds up to 133.1M; the holes in the bullpen should be filled by our huge surplus of young arms (Britton, Patterson, Bruney, Edwar, Sanchez. Cox, Melancon, Horne, Marquez, Whelan, Robertson, etc.) and the bench spots should be filled internally as well (Alberto, Miranda, Duncan, etc.)

    So, we could easily give both CC and Texiera 20M each (although it probably wouldn’t take that much) and still have enough room to leave another 16M on the table for Pettite to be a 6th starter and have a payroll at $190M. And, adding Texiera, a run producer at 1B (which is what Giambi was supposed to be, only better because he’s a switch hitter) would relieve the pressure on the offensive production enough that we could let our top three OF prospects (Gardner, Tabata, and AJax) battle it out (with Shelly Duncan) for the RF vacancy, and shield them at the bottom of the order…

    2009 (ages on opening day)

    LF-Damon (35)
    SS-Jeter (35)
    1B-Texiera (29)
    3B-ARod (33)
    2B-Cano (26)
    C-Posada (37)
    DH-Matsui (35)
    CF-Cabrera (24)
    RF-Brett Gardner (25)

    Bench-Molina (34)
    Bench-Duncan (29)
    Bench-Miranda (26)
    Bench-Alberto Gonzalez (26)

    SP-Sabathia (28)
    SP-Wang (29)
    SP-Hughes (23)
    SP-Chamberlain (23)
    SP-Kennedy (24)
    SP-Pettite (37)

    RP-Rivera (39)
    RP-Melancon (24)
    RP-Ohlendorf (26)
    RP-Britton (26)
    RP-Horne (26)
    RP-Igawa (29)


    SS-Hanley Ramirez (perhaps in a trade from our pitching depth?)
    CF-Austin Jackson?
    RF-Gardner/Jose Tabata?
    C-Austin Romine?